Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Definition of Red Velvet Cake


-Red velvet cake

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"A Red velvet cake is a cake with a dark red, bright red or red-brown color. It is usually prepared as a layer cake somewhere between chocolate and vanilla in flavor, topped with a creamy white icing. Common ingredients are buttermilk, butter, flour, cocoa, and red food coloring or beetroot; although beetroot is traditionally used, many prefer food coloring since it is seen as more appealing. The amount of cocoa used varies in different recipes. A typical frosting is a butter roux (also known as a cooked flour frosting). Cream cheese or buttercream frostings are also used.[1]"

I've always wanted to make a red velvet cake. So once I looked up a recipe and was shocked to find out how much red food coloring was called for. I shun even using a few drops in my recipes, but most red velvet cakes call for almost an entire half bottle of the chemical!!!

Here's something else I read on Wikipedia...

"Though past research showed no correlation between attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and food dyes,[6][7] new studies now point to synthetic preservatives and artificial coloring agents as aggravating ADD and ADHD symptoms, both in those affected by these disorders and in the general population.[8][9] Older studies were inconclusive, quite possibly due to inadequate clinical methods of measuring offending behavior. Parental reports were more accurate indicators of the presence of additives than clinical tests.[10] Several major studies show academic performance increased and disciplinary problems decreased in large non-ADD student populations when artificial ingredients, including artificial colors, were eliminated from school food programs.[11][12]"

I've heard of these studies for quite some years now, so have tried to avoid using food dyes where possible. That doesn't mean we don't use them ever, but I try to be aware of how many artificial dyes my kids consume.

Now, back to the red velvet cake. My husband, an avid and successful gardener, harvested our beets this weekend. As he processed them, I observed their beautiful deep red color and thought to myself that perhaps this is the dye I have been looking for to use in my red velvet cake. I had never before heard that beetroot was sometimes used in this cake, and when I mentioned my plan to the 15-year-old girl, she said, "Mom! That's going to be so gross! Don't use beets in a cake. It's going to taste lame and it's not going to work!"

So, you can imagine my glee when, upon researching how many beets I might use in my cake, I stumbled upon the fact that beets were indeed originally used in the making of red velvet cake! I cried to the 15-year-old girl, "See 15-year-old girl! Beetroots! I intuitively knew that beetroots would work in red velvet cake!"

She laughed at me, but couldn't deny that I was right, as usual.

So, I made the batter, and it was indeed quite red...


...but when it was finished baking, sadly, it was only the color of spice cake. However, as per the definition of red velvet cake, it being a cake somewhere between a deep red and reddish brown color, I'm still calling it red velvet.

And you know what, it tastes like velvet and it is so delicious, that I don't care if it's not quite red. Here's the recipe and thanks for listening!

P.S. You might not want to look at the nutrition data on this one. 

Natural Red Velvet Cake

<p>A brownish-red velvet cake using beetroot instead of red food coloring&#8230;</p>

See Natural Red Velvet Cake on Key Ingredient.

For the cake:
1 cup shredded beetroot
1 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup cocoa powder
4 eggs
3 tsp baking soda
2 cups milk
2 tsp salt
3 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
5 cups flour

For the frosting:
8 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
4 tsp vanilla
1/4 to 3/4 cup milk


1. Combine and milk and vinegar in a glass and leave for 10 minutes, until milk is slightly curdled.

2. In a blender, blend milk and beets until smooth.

2. Whisk together all dry ingredients.

3. Beat sugar and butter together, until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla, and milk mixture.

4. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

5. Pour batter into 4 9” greased and floured cake pans or 3 cake pans and 12 cupcake papers.

6. Cook for 15 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

7. When finished baking, leave in cakes pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto racks to cool.

8. For the frosting, beat together powdered sugar, butter and vanilla. Slowly add milk until frosting is desired consistency. Frost cake when it is completely cooled.

PSSST! To find great deals on fun stuff to do in your area, go HERE!

1 comment:

Ken and Lauretta said...

My birthday cake when I was growing up was always a red velvet cake! I have a yummy recipe for it, too! I am so excited that you used the beet juice. After making my last cake and having to use all that dye (I could only bring myself to use half of what it called for), I can't wait to try this next year!

For 15-year-old-girl...my grandfather raised sugar beets for years. They used those beets for the Utah/Idaho Sugar. I wonder if they could have used the sweet beets and their juice for this delicious cake? If only he was around to ask.....